Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began his scientific career in physiology and expanded into evolutionary biology and biogeography. Among his many awards are the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan's Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by The Rockefeller University. His previous books include "Why Is Sex Fun?," "The Third Chimpanzee," "Collapse," "The World Until Yesterday, " and "Guns, Germs, and Steel," winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
According to Diamond, the survival of a human population is based on relatively few factors, such as environmental fragility (soil, length of growing season, climate), ecological responsibility (planting trees, maintaining fish or livestock populations) and intercultural interactions (war, trade). He presents numerous case studies that demonstrate how unsuccessful cultures have poor scores for many of these attributes whereas successful cultures have higher scores. What ought to make this book interesting are the many descriptions of past and present world cultures. In fact, the selection of examples seems eccentric and the conclusions somewhat forced. Unfortunately, this is also better suited to the print format; the sentences are long, and it is frequently hard for a listener to extract major points out of the surrounding verbiage. Michael Prichard is a fine reader, and he does as well as anyone could with such a text. Many patrons will find listening to this a frustrating experience. Recommended only for large public and academic libraries.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Mr. Diamond...is a lucid writer with an ability to make arcane scientific concepts readiily accesible to the lay reader, and his case studies of failed cultures are never less than compelling." --The New York Times
..".Collapse is a magisterial effort packed with insight and written with clarity and enthusiasm." --Businessweek
"Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in their ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past. I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care." --Gregg Easterbrook, The New York Times Book Review